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Can't boot from a secondary slave drive!


I am trying to boot from a slave hard drive. I have two CD-ROMs set as primary master and primary slave (CD-R/RW - master / CD-ROM - slave) and I have two hard drives set as the secondary master and secondary slave respectively. After going through the motherboard manual many times, it seems to me that I can specify in the BIOS which boot device will be used to boot my system (CD-ROM, IDE 0, IDE 1, IDE 2 or IDE 3, etc.)

I just bought a new Maxtor 40GB hard drive and successfully installed it as the secondary slave. I ran FDISK on it and created a single primary partition. Then I rebooted and formatted the hard drive and copied the system files to it (Windows 98SE). Then I rebooted again and ran the BIOS setup utility (AMIBIOS) and set the boot device order like this: CD-ROM, Floppy, IDE 1.

My computer reads the secondary master as IDE 0. So according to my calculations, with no CD or floppy inserted, setting the third boot device as IDE 1 should boot my system using my newly configured secondary slave hard drive. However, what happens is I get the following messages on the boot screen:

Searching for boot record IDE 1... OK
Boot failure from previous device

What am I doing wrong? I've tried running FDISK again and attempting to set the partition active on the secondary slave drive but I keep getting this message:

Only partitions on Drive 1 can be made active.

Then I tried deleting the partition and making it an extended DOS partition instead and doing all of the above all over again and getting all the same error messages. It seems to me that if only I could make the partition on my slave drive active then I would be able to successfully boot from it. No?

Now I'm starting to research some boot loaders (like XOSL) but before I get too deep into these immensely complicated programs I was wondering if there was some simple thing I was overlooking in the above that would help me boot from my secondary slave.

Any help would be appreciated. I'd like to effect a simple solution to create a dual/multi boot system and I'm out of ideas. I'm not so crazy about going the XOSL boot manager route but if I have to then I will.

Help please?
2 Solutions
I think that only the first HD drive in order can be made Boot active therefore you can't boot from the secondary drive since there is a boot partition on IDE drive 0 (Secondary Master - your old drive ) which has been already made active.
And I'm not sure if you can deactivate the partition in FDISK.

How's about if you just switch the drives .. primary to secondry and vise versa.

Also I think you don't actually boot that often from CD-ROM's and Floppy so you could just set the sequence to
IDE3, CDROM, Floppy, or IDE3, Floppy, CDROM

If your New hard drive is actually Secondary Slave, then by your calculations the IDE3 is actually your New drive in Boot up sequence.

Other things is that you could re-arrange the IDE drives in your comuter as following

Primary Master       The New 40 Gb Drive
Primary Slave         The old drive
Secondary Master   CD-R/RW
Secondary Slave     CD ROM

that's actualy the usual approach ...

In this case the the boot-up sequence: IDE0, CDROM, Floppy

Hope this give you some help.
Steve McCarthy, MCSE, MCSA, MCP x8, Network+, i-Net+, A+, CIWA, CCNA, FDLE FCIC, HIPAA Security OfficerIT Consultant, Network Engineer, Windows Network Administrator, VMware AdministratorCommented:
The first thing I would say is why do you have your CD Roms on your primary controller and the hard drives on your secondary controller.  Typically, in new motherboards, the primary controller is blue and for the UDMA 66/11/133 speeds utilizing an 80 pin cable and the secondary is black for the UDMA 33 and below speeds with a 40 pin cable.

Having said that, if you have a good drive, formated and the partition active, you should be able to boot from that secondary master position.  

If you want dual booting, have your oldest OS on whatever drive you have as your first booter, ie the master drive.  Then load each newer OS in order and put the OS's on different partitions or drives.  The OS's will update the Boot.ini with each load and give you a menu upon boot.

MasterBooter is a very powerful utility which enables your computer to use multiple operating systems without changing harddisks or messing with boot floppies.  You can choose among up to 3 operating systems at boot time (8 in the registered version).  MasterBooter is compatible with many operating systems.
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The boot device should be IDE 3. If you have drive plugged into secondary slave socket.

It must be active, so make sure it is the primary (and only drive) when you make it active using fdisk, then replug it into where u want it. (Fdisk will only allow one active drive, but booting will allow others)

It must be formatted with something that will boot. (I assume when you say copied boot files you meant using SYS command)

Test that the drive single boots (as pri.master, nothing else plugged in) to eliminate this as the problem.

Finally, (or first) check your jumpering. Check either cable select or master/slave is working correctly.

Remember with 80 core IDE cables master drive goes on the end connecter and slave goes on the next one in. (never caused me problems getting it wrong, but that is the specification)

Good luck
Another point that I note: if you have your cd's on separate controllers you will notice a significant decrease in transfer time when copying cds

matt_bellAuthor Commented:
To Physicistm and Samccarthy:

Thank you both for your suggestion to put my hard drives on the primary controller. My CDs were on the primary controller when I bought the computer and although I thought it was unusual, I didn't think much of it. Now my hard drives are both on the primary and the CDs on the secondary which fixed another problem I had where my CDs weren't displaying the labels correctly.

To Mikesg:

Masterbooter looks like exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks! I also followed the links to the Partition Resizer site. Great stuff! I'm splitting the points between you and Beldoran.

To Beldoran:

Thank you for confirming what I had eventually figured out on my own which was that if you only have one hard drive plugged in at a time then you can successfully set each one with an active partition and then replug both and have them remain with active partitions on each. Using this method, I finally managed to get my BIOS to boot from either hard drive at will (by either setting it to IDE 0 or IDE 1). When booting from IDE 0, however, this messes up the drive lettering on my primary Maxtor HD which has two partitions. What happens is the first partition on my primary master becomes Drive C:, the second partition becomes Drive E: while the primary slave with a single partition becomes Drive D:  But everything works so I can't complain unless you or someone else has some further info to add concerning this anomaly(?)... I'm splitting the points between you and Mikesg.

To Dreamcomputer2000:

I thought about putting my CDs on separate channels but the length and positioning of the connectors on any and all of my IDE cables won't allow it.

To All:

Regardless of where my hard drives are placed (either both on primary or both on secondary), my computer insists on acknowledging the first HD as IDE 0 and the second HD as IDE 1. I know that if they are on the secondary channel then they should be acknowledged as IDE 2 and IDE 3 respectively. I don't know my comp won't follow the rules on this.

Anyhow thanks everyone for all the input.

Thats Great,

With regards to the drive lettering, this is the way it has worked for as long as I can remember (a looong time).

What happens is all physical drives with a recognized partition are given a letter in order. Then it gives letters starting from the first drive which has additional partitions. This is normal.

This was a REAL pain when using removable drives and software installed on drives other than the primary (c:)

NT, 2000, and XP have solved this by allowing you to assign drive letters using the disk manager, it works quite well, so if you are using any of those operating systems you can set your drive lettering to suit your needs.

MasterBooter is nearly a biblical tool to those who know its power and are able to utilize it.  Im not allowed to extend this conversation, since I only tested a pirated version of it, but it works very very well!  I no longer use it, I just test software and give it my personal rating.

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